Moles are defined as small, pigmented growths on the skin, usually coming in a dark brown or black color. A mole can be flat or raised, and can develop anywhere on the body, either individually or clustered.
Moles usually develop due to sun exposure and other genetic and environmental factors, and tend to appear from early childhood up to 25 or 30 years old. On average, it is common for a person to have 10 to 40 moles throughout his or her body.
While it is normal for moles to slowly become raised or slightly change in color over time (some even fading and disappearing), many people opt to have their moles removed for cosmetic reasons.
Most moles, like freckles and skin tags, are benign and harmless. However, the more moles a person has, the higher his or her risk of developing melanoma, a very serious and aggressive form of skin cancer.
Moles that have changed rapidly in size, shape, height and color may also indicate cancer and require the attention of a dermatologist. The same is true for moles that have started to appear at 25 years old onwards, and those that are painful, bleeding or itchy.
The ABCDE acronym is a simple rule which individuals can use to check whether his or her moles are malignant or not. These are:
At the onset of one or two of these symptoms, it is best to contact a dermatologist for further assessment and treatment.
There are plenty of reasons why people have their moles removed. Most of the time, the reasons are purely aesthetic or functional. The mole may seem unattractive, or it’s a nuisance, constantly rubbing against clothes or getting caught on things. Some moles, however, need to be removed because there is a risk that they might be or might turn malignant.
There are two main methods of mole removal. These are:
Surgical excision is considered the most effective way to remove moles, and it involves cutting out the mole entirely, along with a small amount of skin and tissue surrounding the treated area. This is also the method used to extract sample tissue for biopsies, which are used to determine the nature of the mole.
Most commonly used to remove raised moles, this method involves using a scalpel or razor to shave off the mole little by little until there are no more traces of the growth on the skin. Electrosurgery and laser may also be used to trim the growth down to skin level. However, these techniques completely destroy the removed tissue, and is thus not suitable for biopsies.
For smaller moles that are benign, a special punching device is used to “punch out” a pipe-shaped piece of skin containing the mole. The acquired mole can then be sent for further assessment.
Regardless of the method used, mole removal will leave a scar, the extent of which can be minimized with the use of skincare treatments and products.
Though mole removal is typically a low-risk and standard procedure, possible rare complications include:
Several methods of mole removal are readily available and the final choice usually depends on the nature of your mole and your personal preference. Your dermatologist will advise which method of mole removal is most appropriate for you. For more enquiries, call LL Cheong Skin & Laser Clinic today at (65) 6836-1480.